High School Hierarchy: 11-15
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
13. LaSalle Academy, New York, NY
NBA Players Produced: Ron Artest, Ed Bartels, Billy Hassett, Dick McGuire, Tom Owens, John Roche, God Shammgod
Combined Experience: 48
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 2
All-Star Appearances: 8
Hall of Famers: 1
Total Points: 80
LaSalle has three unique claims to fame: Dick McGuire is one half of the only tandem of brothers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (his brother, Al, was a legendary coach at Marquette), God Shammgod has one of the most memorable and unique names in sports history and Ron Artest… well, he’s just an interesting guy all around. LaSalle’s gym has always been one of the toughest to play in in NYC. Artest told USA Today in 2004 that the crowd noise was a huge factor. “It gets loud; that’s why I liked playing in there,” he said.
McGuire’s numbers won’t wow you. In fact, you might look at them and say, “How is he in the Hall of Fame?” But remember, McGuire played in an era with no shot clock, when only a handful of guys in the League averaged over 20 points per game and when less than half of the teams in the League averaged over 80 points per game most seasons. It was just a completely different game in that era, one reliant on clock control, ball movement and positioning, and McGuire was consistently one of the top point guards in the League and near the league lead in assists each season.
You’ve probably heard of: For all of his on-court accomplishments, the most remarkable thing about Ron Artest has been his ability to save his NBA career from near disaster. Not many players who get the labels that Artest has been branded with (some fair, most unfair), stick around too long. And after he was a key figure (though not the instigator) in the brawl with fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004, it’s hard to imagine a more catastrophic public relations nightmare for a NBA player. And yet, Artest seems to have emerged from it all reasonably OK. He’s still good for the occasional crazy quote or turning his head into a billboard, but he’s now a champion and he’s generally recognized as one of the best (if not the best) perimeter defenders of the last decade and toughest players in the League. With Artest, there will always be “what could’ve been?” questions because of the time he missed due to suspensions and the fact that the brawl essentially blew up a very good title-contending Pacers team way too early. But a lot of guys who go through similar circumstances don’t emerge with their career largely intact, and Artest deserves a lot of credit for doing just that, along with being one of the most unique players of his generation.
Don’t forget about: God Shammgod was on his way to becoming next in a line of great NYC point guards in the NBA when he decided to leave Providence after his sophomore season, before he’d developed a reliable jumpshot to match his dynamic quickness. He played two seasons in the League with Washington after getting picked in the second round, then embarked on an overseas career that took him to Poland, Saudi Arabia and South America, among other places. Lost Lettermen’s Jim Weber recently wrote about Shammgod’s appeal:
As a sophomore, Shammgod emerged as a fan favorite in the NCAA Tournament when the 10th-seeded Friars dispatched second-seeded Duke in the second round and 13th-seeded UT Chattanooga in the Sweet 16 before facing Arizona in the Elite Eight. Down 10 points with just under four minutes left and Austin Croshere out of the game after fouling out, the Friars turned to Shammgod to almost single-handedly will them to victory. Displaying his quick hands on defense and ridiculous ball-handling skills on the other end, Shammgod finished with 23 points and even had a 15-footer in the final seconds of regulation to win the game. But he missed, and the Wildcats prevailed in overtime and went on to win the national title.
And don’t worry: the tremendous name will carry on. Shammgod’s son, a student at St. Raymond High School, has his father’s name.
Ron Artest on LaSalle: “The system is the same,” said Artest, who added that his favorite memory from LaSalle was being part of a 27-0 team his senior year. “We have a great zone defense and a great offense at LaSalle Academy and the system has probably been the same since the ’40s.
“LaSalle is ranked among the top programs in New York City basketball. There are a lot of other schools that are great too, but LaSalle is definitely a school of tradition in New York City.
“It’s an honor to play for LaSalle but today kids are only playing video games so a lot has changed. They need to get more active and involved in the community.”